Norway bids FM goodbye / News / The Foreigner

Norway bids FM goodbye. Norway will no longer be broadcasting on these VHF frequencies by the end of this year, with Nordland County first out next week. This Northern Norway area will have DAB-only from 11th January, with the remaining five regions’ FM transmissions falling silent as 2017 plays on. The Scandinavian county currently has 25 national radio channels on DAB, with the first one launched in 1995. Just five countrywide ones broadcast via FM, according to Digitalradio Norway.

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Norway bids FM goodbye

Published on Friday, 6th January, 2017 at 13:07 under the news category, by Sarah Bostock and Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 11th January 2017 at 19:03.

Norway will no longer be broadcasting on these VHF frequencies by the end of this year, with Nordland County first out next week.

Digitalradio Norway car and caravan
Digitalradio Norway car and caravan
Photo: radio.no


This Northern Norway area will have DAB-only from 11th January, with the remaining five regions’ FM transmissions falling silent as 2017 plays on.

The Scandinavian county currently has 25 national radio channels on DAB, with the first one launched in 1995. Just five countrywide ones broadcast via FM, according to Digitalradio Norway.

This organisation represents all of the Norway’s broadcasters, with NRK, Bauer Media, and the MTG Group behind it.

“FM technology was introduced in the 1950s and is very limited in relation to current needs, said Ole Jørgen Torvmark, CEO of Digitalradio Norway in a statement to website radio.no.

Lack of capacity is one of the main challenges, according to him.

“There is no room for more national FM channels in a country like Norway, where the challenging terrain and sparse population place great demands on the broadcasting networks,” he continued.

Outdated, expensive, and overcrowded

FM (frequency modulation) was invented by American electrical engineer and inventor Edwin Howard Armstrong (1890-1954), who patented FM radio in 1933.

Some three years later, it was demonstrated to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) for the first time.

The FM broadcast band, which falls within the VHF (Very High Frequency) part of the radio spectrum, spans from 87.5 to 108.0 MHz (Megahertz). It differs between different parts of the world.

Digitalradio Norway’s Ole Jørgen Torvmark explained that the decision to switch off the old analogue network, eventually backed by politicians, was taken because “the FM network is old and parts of the network would need huge investments to ensure continued operation.”

“So it is better to invest in new technology that gives far more opportunities. DAB provides the capacity we need to generate more content for listeners,” he remarked.

Digitalradio Norway also says that 54 per cent of digital listeners listen to the radio on DAB, 19 per cent listen on the Internet.

Norway has 25 national radio channels via DAB, and there is capacity for broadcasting approximately 40 channels. The DAB networks already have the same population coverage as the FM ones.

Criticism                        

At the same time, a poll published by Dagbladet shows that not everyone thinks that DAB is fab.

66 per cent of Norwegians are against switching off FM, 17 per cent are in favour, with the remainder undecided.

The decision to move away from FM has met criticism, as many are concerned that the government is moving too quickly.

There have been fears that emergency alerts, which have been broadcast via FM radio until now, may be missed.

Critics draw particular attention to the fact that 2 million cars in Norway do not have DAB receivers.

While digital adaptors for an FM car radio can be purchased at places including petrol stations, a good one can cost in the region of NOK 1,500 (about USD 180/EUR 170/GBP 140 at today’s ROE).

Electronics dealers stock ones for analogue radios, which will work on ones from around the mid-1900s, according to Digitalradio Norway.

An 11-month journey

The six-stage schedule for FM network switch off begins at 11:11:11 local time, is as follows (local radio stations outside the main cities will continue to broadcast in FM):

  • 11th January: Nordland (population 242,476 (as of Q3 2016))
  • 8th February: Sør- & Nord-Trøndelag, others, Møre og Romsdal (717,867)
  • 26th April: Telemark, Buskerud, Hedmark, Oppland (836,501)
  • 21st June: Sogn og Fjordane, Hordaland, Rogaland, Aust- & Vest-Agder (1,400,179)
  • 20th September: Østfold, Vestfold, Oslo, Akershus (1.799,932)
  • 13th December: Troms, Finnmark (240,911)

Next week will see two events marking the world’s very first FM switch off. On Tuesday 10th January, radio.no and Digitalradio Norway will be hosting a 2.5-hour conference from the Arctic city of Bodø which includes presentations.

Scheduled to start at 15:00, international participants include: Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK (DRUK), Digital Radio NL (Netherlands) Project Director Jaqueline Bierhorst, and Matthieu Beauval, Deputy Director, Head of Innovation at Radio France Digital.

Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner, and Graham Dixon, Head of Radio at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) are also billed as participants.

There will be a web broadcast covering the story of Norway’s digitisation of radio, and the status of digital radio and DAB around the world as well.

Killing the radio star?

Wednesday 11th January’s switchover happening from the Stormen Library is to begin at 10:00.

It will be broadcasted live on nrk.no and there will be English-language commentaries on radio.no.

Norway is not the only country terminating its relationship with FM, however. Switzerland is planning a similar move, set to happen sometime between 2020 and 2024.  Denmark, Sweden, and South Korea are also considering the switch to DAB.

The UK has indicated that it will be joining too. However, Ed Vaizey, now former Conservative Party Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, has previously said that setting a date for turning away from FM is too early.

The British government has indicated that it is unlikely to happen until at least 2020.



Published on Friday, 6th January, 2017 at 13:07 under the news category, by Sarah Bostock and Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 11th January 2017 at 19:03.

This post has the following tags: radio, dab, broadcasting, fm, music, news, sport.





  
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